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SBI dumps exit option for `de-motivated' staff

Sarbajeet K. Sen

New Delhi , Aug. 6

THE proposed `exit option' prepared by State Bank of India (SBI) to rid itself of its "frustrated and de-motivated' staff has itself been shown the exit door.

Developing cold feet over the possible legal implications of a scheme that could be considered as discriminatory in nature, the management of SBI has now decided to dump the proposed scheme.

Unlike the earlier Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) which was open to all employees of the banks who had attained 40 years of age, the exit option was aimed at those officers, clerks and other subordinate staff above 50 years of age who have been stagnating in their existing grades for specified number of years as given in the scheme.

"SBI has decided not to go ahead with the scheme. Since the scheme is not offered across-the-board, there were fears that it might not be legally tenable as it could be challenged on the grounds of it being discriminatory," a senior Finance Ministry official said. The Ministry had earlier given the green signal to the bank to go ahead with the scheme.

SBI had said the objective of the scheme was not to right-size its employee strength as was done through the VRS but to lift the overall morale of its staff by shedding those who were feeling frustrated and de-motivated due to lack of career prospects.

If SBI had been able to go through with its plans it would have had a ripple effect on other public sector banks that would also have been tempted to follow suit by making similar offer to its employees.

For the target group of officers, the scheme had proposed that those who have not been promoted from their present grade even after four chances would be eligible to take the offer, while for the clerical cadre the offer could be availed of only those who have not been promoted as officers in the junior management grade scale-I after four chances.

For subordinate cadre employees, it has been restricted to those who are "under-matriculate and therefore ineligible for promotion or those who are matriculate but have not been promoted to the clerical grade".

Besides the terminal dues, the scheme offered ex-gratia payment of salary last drawn for 50 per cent of service remaining up to the age of 60 years as on the date of retirement subject to a maximum of 36 months.

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